Google rivals Samsung and Nothing with Pixel 8a – 5 best feature upgrades revealed

The baby of the Pixel range brings AI features, upgrades the display, adds new colour options

Google Pixel 8a
(Image credit: Google)

When it comes to the best affordable phones, the market has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Google has been contending for some years with its a-series Pixel handset, but the announcement of the Pixel 8a looks set to challenge the likes of Samsung's Galaxy A55 and Nothing's Phone (2a).

As Google's follow-up to the previous Pixel 7a model, the Pixel 8a naturally brings some more desirable upgrades to the fore. It's not a total reinvention of the wheel, of course, but there are some obvious gains without an increase in price point. So just what does Google's latest affordable handset offer? Here are the top five feature upgrades to get your teeth into...

1. Brighter, smoother display

Google Pixel 8a

(Image credit: Google)

The Pixel 7a came with a 6.1-inch display. So, too, does the Pixel 8a (same
1080 x 2400 pixel resolution too) – but there are some key points of difference that see the newer handset go one better than its predecessor. 

The first is that the newer device has a brighter display. It can max out at 2000 nits, which makes its peak potential 40% greater than that of its predecessor. 

Furthermore the refresh rate has increased from 90Hz to 120HZ to make for a smoother visual experience. It's not a LTPO panel, however, so expect either 60Hz or 90Hz or 120Hz, no super-low nor variable frame-rates in between. 

2. More powerful AI features

A massive part of the Google Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 was the introduction of various artificial intelligence (AI) features. Well, now the Pixel 8a gets many of the same AI features too (not every single one, mind, although Google is yet to confirm precisely which lack).

There's nothing new new in the Pixel 8a, however, its that its AI features echo what you'll find in some of the best Android phones of today – not only Google's own, but Samsung Galaxy handsets, too, such as the Circle to Search feature. 

From Google's Magic Editor, to Magic Eraser and Audio Magic Eraser, Live Translate to Best Take, the Pixel 8a reflects a chunk of what you'll find in its established Pixel siblings already. That's a big step forward for a phone that's so much more affordable than the flagship options. 

3. New eye-catching colours

Google Pixel 8a

(Image credit: Google)

Different manufacturers have very different takes with flagship phones' colour palettes and material choices. While the Pixel 8a continues the off-white 'Porcelain' and near-black 'Obsidian' finishes of its predecessor, there are two new options to brighten your day too. 

Described as 'Bay' (blue) and 'Aloe' (green), these two options have real fresh verve and pop about their visual appearance. Yet neither is outlandish, delivering an attractive alternative option to consider outside of the usual 'black or white'. 

The previous Pixel 7a came in Charcoal, Snow, Sea or Coral options, so while it wasn't dull, per se, the colour palette of the older model was much more subdued than the more vibrant Pixel 8a.

4. More power!

Given the new AI features, it's no surprise to find a new bit of hardware inside the Pixel 8a: the Tensor G3 processor is on board, bringing this a-adorned device a more flagship level of power compared to its predecessor. 

While the G3 chip might not be perfect, it's going to give you more oomph than Samsung's own Exynos chipset in the Galaxy A55 and more AI muscle too. There's also Google's Titan M2 security chip to ensure all your data is locked up safely. 

There's also a brand new 256GB storage option for the Pixel 8a. That's never been the case before, with 128GB being the only option previously (that continues here, as the entry-level option).

5. Extended software support

Google Pixel 8a, Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro

(Image credit: Google)

Like with many of these other upgraded feature highlights, the Pixel 8a takes yet another leaf out of the earlier Pixel 8 and 8 Pro handsets – extended software support. Android is supported for seven years with this handset, giving it a lifespan beyond 2031!

That might sound 'meh' compared to some of the big-hitting features, but it's a big deal for a number of reasons. One, you'll have better security thanks to over-the-air patches improving Android's robustness. Two, Google will continue to introduce 'feature drops' as part of the software updates – meaning you'll get new and more advanced features to play with as part of the 8a package. 


All in all, then, the Google Pixel 8a might look similar to its 7a predecessor, but with a better screen, more power, more AI features, extended software support, more vibrant colours, plus the expected great cameras and software to boot, 2024's launch looks even stronger.

How long it'll be before we get a Pixel 9 and 9 Pro, however, is up for question – as Google I/O 2024 takes place in mid-May, during which you can anticipate updated Google software features and perhaps some hardware. Other new phones, however, aren't likely – unless a top secret Fold 2 is teased!

The Goole Pixel 8a goes on sale on 14 May, with pre-orders available from right now, 7 May. It's priced at £449 in the UK for the 128GB storage option – so there's no year-on-year price increase compared to the 7a, despite these new, more advanced features. 

Mike Lowe
Tech Editor

Mike is the Tech Editor and AV Editor at He's been writing about consumer technology for 15 and, as a phones expert, has seen hundreds of handsets over the years – swathes of Android devices, a smattering of iPhones, and a batch of Windows Phone products (remember those?). But that's not all, as a tech aficionado his beat for T3 also covers tablets, laptops, gaming, home cinema, TVs, speakers and more – there's barely a stone unturned that he's not had a hand on. Previously the Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint for a 10 years, he's also provided work for publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Metro, and more. In addition to his tech knowledge, Mike is also a flights and travel expert, having travelled the globe extensively. You'll likely find him setting up a new mobile phone, critiquing the next MacBook, all while planning his next getaway... or cycling somewhere.